It might sound like I’m an unapologetic bitch
But sometimes you know I gotta call it like it is
—Madonna, “Unapologetic Bitch”
I make no apologies for the fact that I’m a “singles” girl. For me, it’s the rare album that tells a complete story I actually want to hear (yes, Reflektor, you’re the exception, settle down). I much prefer to create my own themed playlists with songs I absolutely love, especially for road trips where I generally want something to keep my energy up. Here are some of my favorite cuts of the year.
Best in Being: Sinkane, “How We Be” (Mean Love). A song with a groove and a video that just makes you happy to be alive. It don’t get better than that.
Best in Bee Gees: Broken Bells, “Holding On for Life” (After the Disco). While I preferred their previous album, this disco throwback caught my attention. Of course, that may be because for the longest time I thought they were saying “Latin Quarter” and not “lighted corner” but, hey, it’s no “Starbucks lovers” (shout-out to @thebestjasmine on Twitter).
Best in Blues Brothers: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, “Call Me” (Half the City). Why, yes, I loved The Commitments, why do you ask?
Best in Brass: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (Uptown Special). You guys, is big band soul coming back? Because that would be awesome. I love everything about this.
Best in Body Parts: Sylvan Esso, “H.S.K.T.” (Sylvan Esso). While the haunting “Come Down” is gorgeous, the appeal of this bouncy number cannot be denied.
Best in the Bay Area: The Family Crest, “Beneath the Brine” (Beneath the Brine). Cello AND a foghorn? Was there any doubt this would be here?
Best in Brooklyn: Bishop Allen, “Start Again” (Lights Out). Pretty sure this is the catchiest song to have “burn it down” in the lyrics.
Best in Bad Intentions: Ages and Ages, “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” (Divisionary). The slow build of this drone-like message song is hypnotic.
Best in Bouge!: Calogero, “Un jour au mauvais endroit” (Les Feux d’artifice). Another irresistibly catchy tune about a dark subject, in this case, the mob killing of two immigrant students in southeastern France.
Best in Beur: Indila, “Run Run” (Mini World). While Indila is not technically a beur (being of Cambodian, Egyptian, Indian, AND Algerian descent), her voice and music has that Arabic fusion flair that I so loved about Natacha Atlas. If you like “Run Run,” I also recommend “Dernière Danse” and its satanic-sounding chorus.
Best in Beatles: Dawn and Hawkes, “I’ve Just Seen A Face” (The Voice). It’s rare that I’m moved to actually buy something sung on The Voice, but this adorable audition made me like a Beatles song and that’s no mean feat.
Best in Billboard: Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off” (1989). Speaking of The Voice, Taylor Swift’s deadpan wit on that show got me to check out her album and I must say I was pleasantly surprised (I don’t listen to the radio and so often miss things like this). Well played, Swifty.
Best in Bizarre: Yelle, “Complètement fou” (Complètement fou). Never has a video so appropriately matched its song title. This really is “completely crazy” in that grand tradition of late 1980s French pop. Believe me, you do not need to understand the words.
Best in Bizarre (runner-up): Fences feat. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Arrows” (Lesser Oceans). Neither the lyrics nor the video for this one make much sense but it sticks in your head like nobody’s business.
Best in Beyoncé: Beyoncé, “***Flawless” (Beyoncé). Is this technically from last year? Yes, but it was everywhere this year. And anything that quotes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gets a place on the list, goddammit. Bow down.
Best in Bitches: Madonna, “Unapologetic Bitch” (Rebel Heart). Is this technically from next year? Yes, but I predict it will be everywhere soon. I’m an unapologetic bitch and I approve this message.
What songs have stuck in your head this year? Do you buy music like I do or do you rely on Pandora, Spotify, or other services to get your fix?
If you are a die-hard album listener, which one do you find yourself going back to again and again? The only entire album I have from this year is First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold, but I love them. What else might be worth my time?